Adventures in New Recipes

I’ve been cook­ing din­ner more than usu­al, late­ly. This is part­ly to save mon­ey (eat­ing out a lot can add up), but also because I have a lighter sched­ule, so there’s a bit more time to shop for ingre­di­ents and make the dish­es.

There have been 2 prin­ci­pal­ly new sources for recipes: one is the H‑Mart (the very nice Kore­an Super­mar­ket) on Rob­son, which has all sorts of ingre­di­ents and even a few con­ve­nience foods (mix­es, frozen food) that let me attempt a few unfa­mil­iar Asian dish­es. Yes­ter­day I tried a Kore­an mix, that is essen­tial­ly a flour and water pan­cake that you add veg­eta­bles and meat or seafood to. It turned out extreme­ly well, but I did­n’t know what sauce I should serve with it (it need­ed a lit­tle driz­zle of some­thing), so after check­ing a few sources (includ­ing the always help­ful peo­ple at the Asian Foods stall at Granville Mar­ket), I could­n’t find any ‘tra­di­tion­al’ sauce for it. I end­ed up using ‘fruit sauce’, which is that tamarind-based sauce that you typ­i­cal­ly have on Tonkat­su, the won­der­ful fried chick­en or pork cut­let that is Japan’s answer to Wiener schnitzel. We had the pan­cakes (wth a ton of veg­eta­bles and some Kore­an-style beef — mar­i­nat­ed in gin­ger, gar­lic, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vine­gar) over rice and with stir-fried baby bok choy and shi­take mush­rooms on the side. I know that it was essen­tial­ly a mish­mash of Kore­an, Chi­nese and Japan­ese cuisines, but it seemed to turn out pret­ty well.

The sec­ond source of recipes has been a superb cook­ing show that we’ve been TiVO-ing from the Food Chan­nel: French Food at Home, with Lau­ra Calder. Lau­ra’s recipes have been hit­ting it out of the park near­ly every time. A month or so ago we tried some of her side dish­es: a ter­rif­ic baked grat­ed pota­to cake (the rus­set pota­to shreds get tossed with cream, which seemed to have just enough fat to hold them togeth­er with­out stick­ing to the foil or get­ting greasy — the result is a light and crunchy pota­to pan­cake with­out fry­ing!), and a bacon and brus­sel sprout leaf side dish that could even get peo­ple who dis­like that veg­etable to love it for the first time. A cou­ple of days ago we tried her deli­cious cold swiss chard with toast­ed sesame seeds, sug­ar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Tonight, I made her Sautéed Chick­en with fresh chopped rose­mary and thyme and white wine. Once again, a good dish. Rarely have I had such a good hit rate with any­body’s recipes, much less a TV cook; Rachel Ray is fun, but with a few excep­tions, her 30 Minute Meals are not always as tasty as they are fast. Jamie Oliv­er was the first Celebri­ty cook I ever watched reg­u­lar­ly with a lot of gut­sy Ital­ian-style dish­es, but the suc­cess rate with his recipes was kind of spot­ty.

With Granville Island’s pub­lic mar­ket with­in a short walk, access to lots of Asian foods, a good kitchen, and now a lit­tle extra time to pro­cure and pre­pare, din­ners have been a lot bet­ter than usu­al. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, when I do find a new full-time job this extra time will go away, but it’s nice to enjoy it while I can, with a steadi­ly grow­ing reper­toire of dish­es.

5 Replies to “Adventures in New Recipes”

  1. My mouth is water­ing. You are an inspi­ra­tion. I like the idea of the chick­en and fresh herbs.…will have to try that. Any links to recipes?

  2. Jeez, David, they all sound del­ish!

    When we get up there, we’ll have to have you come over and cater a gourmet meal for us! 🙂

    As for the H‑Mart on Rob­son: I went in there based on a review of their lunch counter/restaurant. Being so con­fused by the menu with no descrip­tions and no one par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in assist­ing me, I left with­out order­ing any­thing. The mar­ket does look like a cook’s delight, though.

  3. MJ — you can find all of them on the Food Chan­nel’s French Food at Home site — the chick­en recipe is at: http://www.foodtv.ca/recipes/recipedetails.aspx?dishid=8291

    As for the pota­to cakes, they are at: http://www.foodtv.ca/recipes/recipedetails.aspx?dishid=8280

    The bacon brus­sel sprouts one is:
    http://www.foodtv.ca/recipes/recipedetails.aspx?dishid=8372

    The swiss chard is at:
    http://www.foodtv.ca/recipes/recipedetails.aspx?dishid=607
    (that last one is one that Pam found, and think she’s con­fused the source as it’s from anoth­er show, and not one of Lau­ra Calder’s, as far as I can tell)

    Bob, I know what you mean about H‑Mart, and I have to say that the lack of instruc­tions for for­eign­ers (which is what we are when we go to places like these) is fair­ly uni­ver­sal. I find that a lot of store employ­ees are more than hap­py to tell you what to get/eat, but it is usu­al­ly up to you to ask them. It takes a fair amount of brav­ery, and noth­ing will be hand­ed to you. Some­times I get a lit­tle frus­trat­ed, and wish that I had a per­son­al guide to come with me because I know I’m miss­ing out on some of the more exot­ic fare. Last year I tried my first bit of jel­ly­fish and was sur­prised to find it a lot like the sea­weed sal­ad that I often will get along with sushi. No one told me, and there is always the assump­tion that West­ern­ers won’t like any of it, which is a shame.

    I’m begin­ning to think that the answer is to take an Asian cook­ing class (or per­haps even a class for each of the main Asian cuisines, since Thai cook­ing is as dif­fer­ent from Kore­an, Chi­nese, Viet­namese and Japan­ese as Ger­man is from French and Ital­ian!)

    Also, as time goes by and these estab­lish­ments become less insu­lar, I sus­pect that some of them will start to cater to more than the tra­di­tion­al shoppers/diners. When I lived in Rochester, NY, I dis­cov­ered a fan­tas­tic Viet­namese restau­rant, and used to go there reg­u­lar­ly and turned on a lot of friends at school to it. By the time I left that city, the restau­rant had grad­u­al­ly changed so that at least half of their clien­tèle was from out­side the Viet­namese com­mu­ni­ty, and all of the menus had care­ful trans­la­tions, the tables had table­cloths under glass tops (instead of their orig­i­nal check­ered oil­cloths), etc. Some­times I won­der how much I had to do with their suc­cess, as I was frus­trat­ed near the end of my stay that I could­n’t get a table any more on some busy nights…

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